At the lackluster event that was the Russian Eastern Economic Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t speak much about the economy and trade, at least not with Myanmar and Armenia, the only two countries that sent top officials to the event.
Putin instead threatened to slash the export of Ukrainian grain and said that if the West pushes forward with the cap on Russian gas prices, Moscow would cut off all deliveries of gas, oil, and coal to Europe.
“Freeze, freeze, wolf’s tail,” he said, quoting a children’s fairy tale.
The Russian leader was less subtle than usual in making his comments at the recent event in the eastern city of Vladivostok and was far more aggressive in speaking about Russian commodities in a way that made them seem like weapons he could wield against the sanctions of the European Union and the United States.
He implied that Russia could pull out of a United Nations-brokered deal that has allowed for the large-scale export of grain from war-torn Ukraine. He called the deal “another blatant deception,” and “a swindle.”
But the grain deal has so far helped slow the surge of food prices as it has allowed Ukrainian farmers to unload their harvests. Putin falsely claimed that only two of the 87 ships carrying Ukrainian grain went to developing countries, accusing the West of taking advantage of Ukraine at the expense of poor countries.
An incensed Putin said that he would reach out to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss “limiting the destinations for grain exports,” because “it was he and I who came up with this plan,” Putin said, putting the fragile agreement at risk.
President Erdogan, along with the UN, backed and facilitated the negotiations that closed the grain deal. While the Turkish leader has not directly addressed Putin’s comments, he warned that “Russia is not a country to be taken lightly.”
At the conference, Putin also fired shots against the West’s plans to impose a cap on the prices of Russian crude exports globally. “We simply won’t honor the contracts. We won’t supply anything if it goes against our interests — economic, in this case,” Putin told people at the conference. “We will not supply gas, coal, oil, heating oil — nothing!”
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